Stepping up its offensive against the Bharatiya Janata Party, the government on Saturday said the opposition party should ask its chief ministers to resign in connection to the coal-gate row since the state governments decide who gets the mining lease.
"The basic question is that who executes the lease," Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said, two days after the Centre made public letters written to it by BJP and other non-Congress state chief ministers, strongly opposing auction of coal mines.
He said that if anyone should resign it should be the chief ministers of these states. BJP has been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the coal-gate row.
"BJP men, who are levelling allegations, should be asked to get the resignation of their CMs," he told a news conference.
"Because the responsibility was theirs (since) they executed the lease and decided in whose favour it would be done," he claimed.
The Congress leader put the onus on the states in the coal-gate row, while referring to questions being raised on what basis allocation of coal blocks was done and the allegations levelled against Centre's officers.
Sibal said that under Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development Act) only the state governments have the right to execute lease.
"Centre has no right in it. If any person has objection to the lease executed in favour of a particular person or company, whose responsibility was it," he added.
Sibal alleged that the BJP was trying to create confusion of heavy financial losses having occurred in coal block allotment on the basis of the CAG report.
"The disputed coal blocks were allotted for use in power, steel and cement producing plants and not for sale. When something has not been sold, then how can you calculate
loss and profit," he said.
Without taking names, Sibal alleged that a Rajya Sabha leader had said there was no point in a debate on the issue in Parliament as the government has a majority and similar was the situation in the Public Accounts Committee, and therefore the House should not be allowed to run.
"I believe that not allowing the House to function is a fascist step," he alleged.
In reply to a question, the minister said cancellation of coal block allotment would have an adverse impact on power generation in the country.
He said it takes seven to eight years in making a coal block functional and if allotments were cancelled, then it would take similar number of years to mine coal.
Sibal alleged that the BJP was demanding the cancellations without knowing the nitty gritty of the economic system. He said these were the important issues which could also be addressed if the Parliament was allowed to function.
In a reply to another question, the minister said he does not want to say that the CAG was incompetent, but it was true that his calculations of profit and loss were wrong.